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Awards and Honors

Six COE students win 2022-23 Graduate Programs Awards

An aerial photo of Centenial campus, highlighting the Hunt Library.
An aerial photo of Centenial campus, highlighting the Hunt Library. Photo by Marc Hall

Six outstanding NC State engineering graduate students were recognized for their academic achievements, research, leadership and service through the 2022-23 College of Engineering (COE) Graduate Programs Awards.

To be eligible, graduate students had to submit a resume and receive a nomination from a faculty member. Twenty-five nominations were submitted in total.

Doctoral students and master’s students are eligible to receive the Scholar of the Year Award in the following categories: citizenship and service, leadership, research and scholarly achievement.

COE Doctoral Scholar of the Year — Citizenship and Service: Ashwini Pondeycherry Ganesh, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)

Ashwini Pondeycherry Ganesh has been involved in many different kinds of initiatives to improve student well-being at NC State. She was nominated by Paul Franzon, Cirrus Logic Distinguished Professor and director of graduate programs in ECE, who said NC State’s campus is “undeniably a better place because of her actions.”

Ganesh was the first woman to be president of the ECE Graduate Student Association in nearly a decade since the organization was formed in 2013. She is also involved with the Women in ECE chapter and mentored other graduate students. Ganesh led, assisted with and organized several events that helped bring ECE students together, including: a luncheon with professors, which was the first in-person event on campus after returning from online classes during COVID-19; the ECE Graduate Research Symposium; TEDx with Analog Devices; a Thanksgiving dinner for master’s and Ph.D. students who were not traveling home for the holiday; and a soccer tournament, which is a highlight for many graduate students.

COE Doctoral Scholar of the Year — Leadership: Riley Lawson, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE)

Riley Lawson is a natural leader in her academic and research, as well as within her community. She was nominated by Chadi Sayde, assistant professor in BAE. He said in the nomination letter that Lawson “has a gift for bringing people together around a common goal, and for empowering others to achieve their full potential.”

Lawson was president of the BAE Graduate Student Association. She led initiatives to help international students feel better represented and included, added a first-year graduate student representative to the association and promoted events to highlight the department’s diversity. She is dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion work. Lawson helped write a department handbook on graduate student mentors, and she advocated to NC State leadership for university-subsidized child care service for graduate students.

COE Doctoral Scholar of the Year — Research: Junlang Li, UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME)

Junlang Li has published five first and co-first authored peer-reviewed papers in the four years he has been with the BME department. He was nominated by Ke Cheng, Randall B. Terry, Jr. Distinguished Professor, who said that Li is “extremely self-motivated and productive.”

Li’s research focuses on novel delivery strategies and bioactive materials for regenerative medicine applications, with a focus on minimally invasive delivery of stem cell or stem-cell derived treatments for heart ailments. This work resulted in a first author publication in the Chemical Engineering Journal. He also assisted in research related to COVID-19, helping to come up with the idea that led to SHIELD, a spherical hydrogel inhalation that strengthens the mucus barrier for enhanced lung defense. Li is skilled in communicating his research, and he received the first-place award in the Cardiovascular Biomaterials SIG Student Poster Competition at the 2022 Society for Biomaterials Meeting.

CoE Doctoral Scholar of the Year — Scholarly Achievement: Mark Abdelshiheed, Department of Computer Science (CSC)

Mark Abdelshiheed is a skilled researcher with novel and creative ideas and a 4.2 cumulative GPA. He was nominated by Min Chi, associate professor in CSC, who notes that Abdelshiheed “is very enthusiastic about research, has outstanding research skills, and is very passionate in learning [about] and exploring new domains.”

Abdelshiheed’s research is in the field of cognitive science and artificial intelligence in education, with a focus on applying reinforcement learning to prepare students for future learning with a metacognitive foundation, and time awareness for strategies. He has integrated two types of metacognitive skills into two intelligent tutoring systems, and more than 350 NC State students use his research each semester. Abdelshiheed has been first author on several papers accepted by prestigious conferences, as well as on a book chapter. He received the prestigious Diversity & Inclusion Award from 44th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.

CoE Master Scholar of the Year — Research, Jessica Gorski, Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE)

Jessica Gorski’s research area is coastal engineering, with a focus on predicting storm-driven erosion of beaches and dunes. She received her M.S. degree this spring. She was nominated by Casey Dietrich, associate professor in CCEE, who said “she has contributed much more to research at NC State than the typical M.S. student.”

Gorski’s research sought to improve process-based forecasting of coastal erosion during storms, which is a challenging task as erosion happens at small scales but forecasts need to cover long stretches of the coast to be useful to the affected communities. She used her framework to predict erosion during Hurricane Ian, and her predictions compared favorably to empirical predictions produced by professional forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  and United States Geological Survey. She is also an advocate for broadening participation of underrepresented groups in engineering.

CoE Master Scholar of the Year — Scholarly Achievement: Mihir Khara, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)

Mihir Khara is an accomplished student who just finished the first year of his M.S. program at NC State. He was nominated by Donna Ginger Yu, teaching professor and assistant director of graduate programs for ECE, who said his performance was a “significant accomplishment for a first semester graduate student.”

In ECE 564 (ASIC and FPGPA Design With Verilog), Khara submitted a project that had a design that was ranked #1 in terms of performance per unit area for the given spec implementation. He received an A+ in all of the classes he was enrolled in during the fall 2022 semester, while successfully auditing two other classes.